COLUMBUS — Bryan Justice saw a whirlwind 12 months pay off this past weekend.
“I didn’t do bad,” Justice said. “I was jumping well. My run is really the thing that is hindering me the most right now. I think for next year I am going to try to work on runway stuff.”
Justice cleared 14-feet-6. He did not have a chance to match his personal best of 15-0. He did, however, best his regional height of 14-0, and it earned him a spot on the podium.
For an athlete that only cleared 11-6 a year ago, Justice’s rise probably would end up in the fiction section of a bookstore. Tireless work since made him one of the state’s best.
“I do my research,” Justice said. “I am always looking around at these meets, and I knew (14-6) was going to be the cutoff. I was just happy to get over it.”
Justice began to work with renowned pole vault coach Dave Garcia following his sophomore season. Intense work during the past summer and fall gave him a two-foot improvement during indoor season.
His breakthrough outdoor came at his home track. Justice cleared 14-7 to reset his school record and break the meet record in the Mid-State League-Cardinal Division in mid May. He bettered that the next week in winning the district meet.
“When my mom enrolled me in Buckeye Pole Vault Academy, she put a piece of paper on the refrigerator that said ‘15,’ and every time I hit a height I would fill up the bar a little bit,” Justice said. “I never thought I would come near it. I just got closer and closer. Finally, I hit it.”
On Saturday, Justice had a fairly routine start, and he and 11 others cleared 14-0. Then, vaulters began to drop. Justice cleared 14-6 on his next attempt, and it secured him a tie with Toledo Whitmer senior Nick Holley.
Justice was only one of three seniors to make the podium. It did not take long for thoughts to drift toward 2014.
“You are looking around at who are juniors and who are not,” Justice said. “We are all looking at each other and saying, ‘It is our turn.’ Now, it is who is going to step it up the most over the summer. It will be interesting to see what happens next year.”
Next year, Justice likely will have his parents with him. On Saturday, they were in Louisiana for the high school graduation of Justice’s older brother.
No problem. Justice’s friends helped his parents watch his vaults with the use of Skype.
“They were watching graduation and pole vault at the same time,” Justice said. “You only get one graduation, but hopefully I will get two state meets.”
Justice has reason to be confident. It will not be long before he is back on the runway.
“I have to rest my back,” Justice said. “It is a lot on your body to do these three meets back to back. You are always hammering to get as high as you can.”